Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 5- A Non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed

Non-fiction is my preferred genre. If you look at my stacks, you'll see more non-fiction than fiction. When I read fiction, I tend toward classics or other books by an author I've already read and like. I see book referrals as very subjective. What I like, you may not. Hence I hesitate to give someone an opinion on a book. I don't want to saddle them with a book they won't finish.

The list seems to think that people prefer fiction and that non-fiction is something people read because they have to, not because they want to. So, thinking of a book that fit this category has been hard. I have actually broken my self-imposed rule today and spent the whole day thinking about this because nothing popped into my head right away.

I enjoy historical fiction or books that take an event and expand on it, filling in details they really can't know. Eric Larson writes good non-fiction, historical fiction, books. I can heartily recommend his books Isaac's Storm which is about the Galveston hurricane, and Devil in the White City which is about the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They are very well researched and well-written. The topics appealed to me so I wasn't surprised when I enjoyed these books. I also enjoyed Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel. That is the story of Galileo's oldest daughter who supported her father through his inquisition and trial by the Catholic church. But, when I saw this on the shelf, it was intriguing so I was prepared to like it and wasn't surprised when I did.

I finally decided I needed to come home and look through my book journal. A lot of serious readers whom I know have one or two or three of these. Mine dates from the late 1980's. You can see it's a bit worn on the edges.

What does this do, you ask? In this book, I kept a record of about 15+ years of the books I read. There is the title, the author, a small review and the date I read the book. In the back is a section for books lent, which I don't do unless it's a book I don't care if I don't get back, and a pocket to put clippings of books I'd like to read. This book is a bit warped because that back pocket got overfull. I finally took all the clippings out and wrote them in yet another book as one massive "To Be Read" list.

The book is organized alphabetically. The alphabet is done in a collage format with references to books beginning with that letter and, the real reason I got it, each letter is a different typeface. A small history of the typeface is given. As an example, here is the page for "T".

"T"is for trees. 

Some letters, like "B" and "D" have their sections full so I've got a smaller-in-size book that I have turned to for the overflow. It's the same principle, alphabetical sections where you can discuss books. 

I spent some time when I got home from work, rereading over a decade of literature. "Oh yeah! I liked that book. Yup. That one was a stinker." There were themes, a whole bunch of the same kind of book read one after another. There were random books. There were kids and young adult books. In the end, I found the book that fits today's theme, John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley
The "Charley" of the title is Steinbeck's dog. I'm not fond of Steinbeck's writing. I think, like Moby Dick, it's because I had to read Of Mice and Men and then the teacher for that class over did the themes of the book. Too much time was spent on it. It was at the end of the semester and I think my brain was too fried to appreciate it. 

I don't remember where I got my copy of Travels with Charley. I was looking for something reasonably quick to read, something I could shove in my purse and something that didn't lose momentum if I only read it at swimming lessons. I saw this and thought, "Ewww. Steinbeck. Oh well, it's short. I'll try it."

I read this in January of 1990 and my review is,
I was rather amazed, as I read, that the observations made in 1960 are still relevant, poignant and real some 30 years later. He talks about garbage and growth and change in cities. He discusses racism and traveling and coming home. Maybe the more things change, the more they really do stay the same at their core. 
I don't know if I still have this book or if it has long since been given away. I am wondering, having read my review, if I would think the same thing some 51 years after Steinbeck's journey. 

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


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